Wittgenstein’s Mistress (David Markson)

A master-work that anticipates Markson's later fragmentary novels, Wittgenstein's Mistress is the story of a woman who believes she is the last living thing on the planet, and whose madness is apparent in every sentence of the novel — although most of the novel's sentences concern trivia regarding artists Kate recalls. A brilliant novel and utterly devastating by the end. The fragmentary approach is one Markson refines in later books (it drags out the novel's middle to some degree) but in this work there is much more of a frame for the fragments and this compensates for what only seems a lack of refinement in the technique because Markson's later books are so adept. A truly “new novel” (to borrow an old phrase), and strangely gripping.

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Jonathan Ball is a writer, filmmaker, and scholar living at www.jonathanball.com.

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